Belfast Telegraph

Prosecutors rule out appeal of Margaret Henderson three-year jail term for pensioner killing

By Alan Erwin

Prosecutors will not be appealing the sentence handed down to a woman who killed a Co Antrim pensioner, it was confirmed on Thursday.

No legal grounds have been identified for challenging the six-year term - three of which are to be spent in jail - imposed on heroin addict Margaret Henderson-McCarroll for the manslaughter of Eddie Girvan.

Mr Girvan's body was discovered at his Greenisland home in January 2016.

The victim, a 67-year-old retired plumber, had been bound, gagged and stabbed twice in the chest.

Henderson-McCarroll, 31, who had been living in a hostel at Verner Street in Belfast, pleaded guilty to his manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The mother-of-two claimed she acted in self-defence, poking pensioner with a cake knife during a row over money for sex.

According to her account she was high on crystal meth and heroin at the time, and had no intention to kill.

The six-year term handed down at Belfast Crown Court last month was based on sentencing guidelines and an examination of the circumstances.

It provoked shock among some politicians who called on the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.

At the time the authority announced it was reviewing the sentence to determine whether a challenge had any merit.

But following legal scrutiny a decision has been reached not to pursue the matter.

A PPS spokesperson said: "The sentence handed down to Margaret Henderson-McCarroll has been carefully considered and no legal basis has been found to refer it as an unduly lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal.

"An unduly lenient sentence is one that falls outside the range of sentence that a judge, taking into consideration all relevant factors and having regard to sentencing guidance, could reasonably consider appropriate.

"In other words the sentence must not just be lenient but must be unduly lenient."

It is understood that Mr Girvan's family have already been informed of the PPS's decision.

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